Cultural heritage in the digital ecosystem. Matera 2019 European Capital of Culture


The article intends to highlight the role of multi-semiotic representation in the branding of cultural heritage in the digital ecosystem. The case study is represented by the city of Matera in Southern Italy that has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1993 and is now one of the two 2019 European Capitals of Culture (ECoC) with the Bulgarian city of Plovdiv. Among the reasons why the Italian city was awarded the title at the end of an intense competition were the visionary quality of heritage branding and the strategic use of digital media for citizen engagement. In order to illustrate these winning features, a critical analytic approach to discourse will be applied to key project documents to detect salient linguistic patterns and discursive strategies that encode the socio-cognitive features and core values of Matera 2019’s programme. The analysis will then continue with a selection of verbal and visual materials published on the English version of the Matera 2019 website. The multimodal discourse analysis of these materials will observe how the municipality and its stakeholders have managed to embody a convincing heritage narrative and propose a model of social entrepreneurship in which semiotic choices play a key role in incorporating the city’s vision and values that were first articulated in the documentation supporting its candidacy.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i22390359v33p269

Keywords: cultural heritage; social entrepreneurship; Critical Discourse Studies; multimodality; Matera 2019 ECoC.


Auclair E. and Fairclough G. (eds.) 2015, Theory and Practice in Heritage and Sustainability: Between Past and Future, Routledge, Abingdon/New York.

Dümcke C. and Gnedovsky M. 2013, The Social and Economic Value of Cultural Heritage: Literature Review, European Expert Network on Culture (EENC) paper. (15.6.2019).

European Commission/European Capital of Culture, 2014, The Selection Panel’s Final Report. (15.6.2019).

Flowerdew J. and Richardson J.E. 2018, The Routledge Handbook of Critical Discourse Studies, Routledge, Abingdon/New York.

Hart C. and Cap P. (eds.) 2014, Contemporary Critical Discourse Studies, Bloomsbury, London/New York.

Iedema R. 2003, Multimodality, Resemioticization: Extending the Analysis of Discourse as a Multisemiotic Practice, in “Visual Communication” 2 [1], pp. 29-57.

Jenniskens C., Ulijn J. and Tywuschik, S. 2011, Cultural Capital and European Entrepreneurship Research: A Plea for a Paradigm Focusing on National, Corporate and Professional Cultural Capital, in “International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Business” 14 [1], pp. 39-55.

Kress G. and van Leeuwen, Th. 1996, Reading Images: The Grammar of Visual Design, Routledge, London.

Kress G. and van Leeuwen, Th. 2001, Multimodal Discourse: The Modes and Media of Contemporary Communication, Arnold, London.

Kress G. 2010, Multimodality: A Social Semiotic Approach on Contemporary Communication, Routledge, London.

Levi C. 1945, Cristo si è fermato a Eboli, Einaudi, Torino. English Translation by Frances Fenaye, 1947, Christ Stopped at Eboli: The Story of a Year, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York.

Matera 2019 Committee 2014, Matera Candidate City European Capital of Culture 2019: Bid Book. (15.6.2019).

Matera 2019 European Capital of Culture n.d., (15.6.2019).

Matera-Basilicata 2019 Foundation 2016, Competition Call and Rules for the Creation of the Brand/Logo for Coordinated Graphic Design of the Matera-Basilicata 2019. (15.6.2019).

Moore K.E. 2014, The Spatial Language of Time: Metaphor, Metonymy and Frames of Reference, John Benjamins, Amsterdam/Philadelphia.

Paganoni M.C. 2015a, City Branding and New Media: Linguistic Perspectives, Discursive Strategies and Multimodality, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke/New York.

Paganoni M.C. 2015b, La lezione di Matera. I giovani protagonisti, in “Eco di Bergamo”, 14 September, p. 16.

Paganoni M.C. 2015c, Cultural Heritage in the Discourse of European Institutions, in “LCM Languages Cultures Mediation” 2 [2], pp. 117-130.

Pfeilstetter R. 2015, Heritage Entrepreneurship: Agency-Driven Promotion of the Mediterranean Diet in Spain, in “International Journal of Heritage Studies” 21 [3], pp. 215-231.

Sambre P. 2017, The Experiential Future: Socio-Cognition and Multisensory Marketing in Matera European Capital of Culture 2019, in Baicchi A. and Pinelli E. (eds.) Cognitive Modelling in Language and Discourse across Cultures, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, pp. 217-233.

Tondo L. 2018, Is Matera’s Crumbling Beauty Ready for Its Year in Europe’s Cultural Sun?, in “Guardian”, 12 September. (15.6.2019).

Utrecht School for the Arts (HKU) 2010, The Entrepreneurial Dimension of the Cultural and Creative Industries, Hogeschool voor de Kunsten Utrecht, Utrecht. (15.6.2019).

Full Text: pdf


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribuzione - Non commerciale - Non opere derivate 3.0 Italia License.